Wednesday, January 28, 2009

White Out

A while back I read a post about an Illinois McMansion on Cote de Texas.

The home's kitchen was designed by one of the most innovative Kitchen Designer's out there- Mick de Giulio of Chicago. It's featured in his residential portfolio, however it appears the Kitchen has undergone a remodel in the short 3 years since the house was built. A staging remodel no doubt, as the home is now for sale.


The original design by Mr. de Giulio is bolder with a color scheme of a deep blue, dark wood, and cream. The bookshelves that flank the fireplace were in this deep blue color, between cobalt and navy. As is the window trim.


The remodeled Kitchen features a more pure white and a Swedish influence. The bookshelves and window trim have been painted and bring a much lighter feel to the space. You now notice the features themselves rather than just their color.



The original island finish was a dark ebonized walnut. This too has gone to a lighter shade of pale and now matches the other painted woodwork in the space. The marble countertop looked especially pretty with the dark wood. I would have preferred to see this piece stay dark as it was, and contrast all the white. The use of baskets, open shelving, and the pot rack are very welcoming touches.


The backsplash tile is also different- the modern glass subway tile has been replaced with a traditional white version. Full height tiled backsplashes are one of Mr. de Giulio's frequent design elements, and again a detail for a true cook's kitchen.


I love that the tile brings a pattern to the kitchen, and I prefer this new tile- its more appropriate with the lighter wood finishes. And when your range costs as much as this beauty does, it should certainly take center stage!


The furniture appears to be the same, so I don't believe the owners have changed...just changed their color scheme. They've even kept the potted rosemary plants on the table in both versions. It seems the owners didn't want to totally erase the blue however- notice the striped grain sack draped over the upholstered ottoman.

Mick's ideas, specifications and finishes are top notch in quality, uniqueness and generally reflect a well funded budget. I am sure the home in Illinois is no exception- it is beautiful in photographs and I'm sure even more stunning in person.

To take a tour of this pretty home, click here.

To take this pretty home, new white paint and all, click here.

Monday, January 26, 2009

A Sconce is a Sconce is a Sconce... or not!

I've been searching for interior wall sconces for the bathrooms of a current project.

My client wanted to see them all in person, which I highly recommend. Many times the fixtures turn out to look nothing like what you may have expected, especially when it comes to the finish. And if it's something custom, you're stuck with it. You can imagine the disappointment!

One of the pet peeves of both myself and this client is when we walk into a home and it looks as though they've bought an entire stock of one or two fixtures for the entire home. Or just the opposite, when it looks like they've bought one of everything in every finish! Neither is exactly pleasing to the eye.

To avoid these scenarios I turned to a designer's favorite, Circa Lighting. My client could see these fixtures while in Atlanta (Circa is also in Houston, Savannah, and Charleston). I fully realize that the term "designer's favorite" is a dangerous one and people's wallets instantly lock up upon hearing it. Surprisingly that is not so with Circa- their fixtures are as fair and reasonable in price as the are exquisite in design. One could very easily spend more at Home Depot or other mass-producer retailers. Surprising, but true.

Unintentionally, we've ended up with almost every interior wall sconce coming from this treasure trove of a lighting shop. The look we're going for is traditional, but unexpected traditional, so of course we only had hundreds to narrow it down from! Here's what we've ended up with...

We're going with the Reed for the Master Bathroom, although just the Single (the Double is shown here). Love the curved arm and the round ring drop....

The TT Single was the runner up for the Master Bath. It's a little too plain-jane for this space, but I see it working perfectly in my future dream bathroom. One of the many benefits of shopping for clients... finding things for myself along the way. And with Circa's swallowable prices, its even better!

The Boston Head Wall Sconce. How funky is this little guy? I mean really, its totally unique. Definitely on my list of new favorites. We're using these on either side of a smaller bathroom vanity in the Polished Nickel finish.

The Simple Scallop Sconce. One of these will be used on either side of a bathroom mirror. Very elegant, and the silver piping on the shade is icing on the cake.

The Longacre Sconce. The simple fluting on this sconce is an example of the attention to detail you will find on Circa's fixtures. Two of these will be going into the most contemporary of the Guest Bathrooms- they will flank a custom 8" thick concrete trough sink. The Longacre's stouter, bolder shape will compliment this well.

I found it really hard to turn this one down... it was the runner up for the concrete trough bathroom. The sconce is actually a ship light, not just a look alike, but from a real ship light manufacturing company, hence the website Despite my affection for this chrome beauty, I do think the Longacre above is the better way to go- it's slightly more sophisticated for a Guest Bathroom. I will absolutely use this one here in a more utilitarian setting in another project, like my dream Laundry Room! Realistically, it might be more economical than recessed can lighting!

As long as I'm diverging from my Circa finds, I might as well share this one... definitely going somewhere in my dream home, even if I have a light on every wall! It is the Paris by Niermann Weeks, a modern deco style take on a traditional Venetian candle sconce... OOH LA LA!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Red or White

Photo: Vogue Feb. 2009

Red or White?
Thats the only dilemna I see in this Kitchen...
Have a relaxing and restful weekend!

Thursday, January 22, 2009


I'm not a pink person. My black, black and white closet can immediately tell you that.

But with spring collections coming out I'm finding myself draw to all things pink...

This is one of the oh, three, shirts on the wish list from J. Crew . All in their new shade of "blush" of course.

Suddenly a pair of pink pearls seems appropriate for every outfit... Seriously, where this new-found love of pink is coming from I do not know...

Daily activities would seem that much more exciting when planned in fuchsia.

It's the planner or the Blackberry , but certainly not both. It's one thing to introduce pink, it's another to become an overnight Pink Princess!

Photo: ????
A tablescape with an accent of pink is a good way to ease it into the color scheme.

Photo: yours truly

Isn't this old Italian plaster beautiful? I love how it once was red and has faded to all sorts of mottled shades. You really can't faux this, no matter what anyone claims!

Photo: Cozy Atmospheres Interiors by Jessica Lawson

My favorite bathrooms are ones with furniture incorporated.
And full length curtains.
And a large antique mirror.
And vintage glass containers.
Short list isn't it?
Well anyway, the pink in this bathroom sets off those beautiful features perfectly. You wouldn't notice them as much if the walls were white. Plus this pink has a bit of peach in it which tones down the sweetness.

Photo via Eddie Ross
I went gaga over this lacquered medicine cabinet from Eddie Ross. The ballet pink background transforms it from utilitarian to special, and the contents look 100x better too!

For those not be ready to crack open a can of paint and pink-ify a bathroom entirely, this pretty pink glass would be wonderful for holding make up brushes.

Photo via House Beautiful
A New Orleans interior long on drama and unashamedly pink silk curtains.

Photo via House Beautiful
I could handle this camellia colored exterior no problem.
Not to mention the fact that it's a beautiful New Orleans home with fabulous french doors, working full length blue -gray shutters, a wrap around veranda and is no doubt over-looking a lush courtyard. Yes, I think I could handle it!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A nice surprise

One of the places where I've searched and found magnificent style is at Country French Antiques.

If you would like a virtual trip to some of the most beautiful interiors in France, bon voyage to the Country French Antiques blog. And if you find yourself in Louisville, soak up a little French at the Country French Antiques shop.

I'm always in awe when visiting this blog, so you can imagine my absolute surprise and delight to see Searching For Style named as one of their "New Discoveries"!!!

Merci Country French Antiques! Quelle honneur indeed!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Hello Bookshelves

It's a very exciting Saturday morning... I'm picking up much needed bookshelves for my book-pile ridden house!

Domino Feb. 2009

I've tried to make this stacked look work forever, though I just have too many magazines and books to pull it off. When using them on a daily basis, it really isn't practical for me either. But it sure does look good in this picture doesn't it?

I'm off... first the shelves, second the bookstore!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A Well Designed Change

Its official, Change is coming to the White House.

Yes, Michael S. Smith is headed to town with an entirely new agenda. His platform consists of classical innovation, elegant comfort, and real life usability.

I'm talking about the newly appointed White House decorator of course!
Can he bring change? The cherry leather chairs below tell me, "Yes he can!"

Oh certainly the WH has had some glory days in its past. Jackie Kennedy was a proponent of change herself. You might even call her a Maverick.

She didn't just want to decorate her new residence upon moving in, she wanted to restore it, honor America, and showcase authentic period pieces. She directed a transformation not just a face lift, with influences from Sister Parish and Stephane Boudin.

“It would be sacrilege to merely redecorate it—a word I hate. It must be
restored, and that has nothing to do with decoration. That is a question of

Her results were absolutely fitting for the residence of the President...

The Blue Room. Jackie had the walls lightened from the dark blue they had previously been, and added a light rug. Look at the pretty herringbone wood floors underneath and the gorgeous Parisian inspired crystal chandelier.

The Oval Room. Perhaps the room with the most contrasting colors of all the ones Jackie transformed... A bright and cheerful room so appropriate for an energetic young family.

The Red Room. She put a light rug in here too. It definitely softens the harshness of past (and future) red rooms. The chairs and sofa to the are upholstered in fabric with a touch of pink... its a detail like that which can make all the difference!

The Green Room. Its a soft clover-like green, and is brightened by the light floral upholstery on the settees and by the crystal chandelier. Fresh pink flowers in the background add to the femininity Jackie bestowed.

President Kennedy's restored Oval Office. It was completed while he was in Dallas, the weekend of his assassination. It was dismantled before Jackie could see it finished. Of course, this is the famous desk that JFK Jr played under as a little boy.

Light colors mixed into the rug, the white walls, and accents of gold keep refresh the State Dining Room. This could seriously pass for 2009 rather than 1962!

The Kitchen and its carnation pink curtains... don't you just love them? This Kitchen is ahead of its time with so much stainless steel and a freestanding island!

The private Dining Room with its restored wallpaper. The colors are so rich, yet the room isn't severe because of all the pops of white and the flowing pattern in the rug.

I love the eye catching teal of the Diplomatic Room. These colors are so Michael Smith- I wonder if he'll revive them!

The East Sitting Room. I love the enormous arched window and flowing window treatments. They are simply elegant, not over the top (achem, 1990's!). Notice the interesting ruching detail of the upholstery on the bottoms of the chairs and the sinuous lines of the chandelier. The room's more tone-on-tone look is still popular today.

The West Sitting Room. Of course the popular idea of stacked books on center tables was in place decades ago with Jackie at the wheel. The light blush carpet, lipstick pink chair and apple green window treatments are just jewel-like. Notice how this room has a bold gold tone chandelier and the more monochromatic East Sitting Room had the lighter crystal one...details details details!

Perhaps the most recognizable of all Jackie's White House Rooms- the French inspired First Lady Bedroom. Lighter walls become a backdrop to the fabric architecture of the draperies and the crowned and swagged bed. There are so many fabulous pieces this room: the Bergere chairs, the monochrome Boutis quilts, a colored crystal chandelier, a painted screen, understated framed prints...still all coveted elements today!

The view opposite the bed of the Sitting Area. Look at the pretty embroidered silk table skirt- its evident Jackie loved fabric as a major design ingredient. Even the small armoire has curtained doors. The curtains look more aqua than steel blue in this picture...hmmm I don't know which is more accurate nor which I prefer!

The mantle display could easily be mistaken for something in a home today- arandom grouping of similar frames, blue and Chinese pottery, and an antique bust.

From the fringe on the curtains to the pleated skirt on the chaise, look at all the fine upholstery details in Jackie's Dressing Room. Notice all the personal touches here, and in several other of the First Family's rooms- the framed family photos, stacks of books, baskets full of firewood...

Here in the Queen's Bedroom and Sitting Room are the most obvious displays of Jackie's love of fabrics and French Designs. Its Toile done Americana style in cranberry red and indigo blue. She balanced light and dark so well in each space. Even the darker blue is bright and airy because of the contrasting wood trim, light rug, and strategically placed mirror.

The Lincoln bedroom. It's a subtle and soothing room. The dark wood contrasts beautifully with the delicate upholstery fabrics.

Just when you think you know what to expect, bright blue canopies the Prez's bed. I love the contrast of the shiny dark doors to the right of the bed. With all these canopy beds, Michael will fit right in!

And now for the most charming rooms...

Caroline's powder-puff pink bedroom. How sweet is her candy colored sofa and floral canopy bed? She must have felt so grown up in here. One of the reasons making these rooms so wonderful is that they look real, lived in and personalized. Toys, books, frames are part of the life of the first family and add so much to the decor.

John-John's bedroom. It's got Jackie's stamp all over it!

Lastly, we see the Pool Room. The wall we see is actually a mirror, reflecting a mural that was commissioned by President Kennedy's father. Trying to bring a little of the Hyannis coast to DC it seems!

For more of Michael S. Smith's exquisite interiors click here. His books are amazing too, both for their text and imagery!

For more of the White House through the years click here. Its quite eye-catching how it has evolved over the years!

*Photos and quotes from The White House Museum website and Michael S. Smith Houses *
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